ABSTRACT

As we have seen, the cult of St Katherine of Alexandria probably originated in oral traditions emanating from the early fourth-century Diocletianic-era persecutions of Christians in Alexandria. There is no evidence that Katherine herself was a historical figure and she may well have been a composite drawn from memories of women persecuted for their faith. 1 Many aspects of her Passio are clearly legendary and conform to well-known hagiographical topoi. However, even if she is a composite figure, Katherine can be shown to have achieved independent existence by the seventh century when her name is found in a Syriac litany, probably composed in Antioch. 2 This litany, most likely based upon a Greek original, demonstrates Chalcedonian characteristics, suggesting that it derives ultimately from Constantinople.